Fauci’s farewell at the White House spirals out of control as reporters question the origins of COVID-19
Dr. Anthony Fauci made his last appearance in the White House briefing room on Tuesday, causing chaotic scenes as reporters bombarded him with questions about the origins of COVID-19.
He gave Americans a message to get booster vaccines and reflected on his time as one of the country’s top scientists, but press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had to step in when journalists shouted questions.
“We have a trial here,” she said, glaring at a reporter in one of the back rows.
“I don’t call people who shout and you are disrespectful to your colleagues, and you are disrespectful to our guests.
“I won’t call you if you yell and you take time off too, because Dr. Fauci has to leave in a few minutes.
‘I’m ready. I’m not going back and forth with you.’
Dr. Anthony Fauci returned to the White House briefing room for the last time to urge Americans to get another COVID-19 vaccine as the winter season approaches
But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre intervened when troublesome journalists shouted over each other to ask questions about the origins of COVID-19
“I will not call you if you shout and you also take time off the clock,” she told reporters
It marked the latest clash between reporters and officials.
While television journalists in the front rows can expect questions every day, those further back — or come armed with tough questions — find it hard to have their raised hand ignored.
The day was meant to mark Fauci’s approaching retirement. He returned to the stage where he became a household name at the start of the pandemic, occasionally contradicting President Donald Trump’s wilder comments about COVID-19.
The 81-year-old is stepping down after 54 years of public service
He took the opportunity to hammer out a public health message urging viewers to buy the latest booster.
Fauci’s notoriety increased in the previous administration, when he regularly appeared alongside then-President Donald Trump in the White House briefing room
At times, Fauci struggled to hide his exasperation at Trump and his handling of the crisis
“We know it’s safe. We know it’s effective,” he said.
“So my message and perhaps the last message I give you from this podium is that, for your own safety, for your family’s, get your updated COVID-19 shot as soon as you qualify, to help yourself protect, your family and your community.’
And he suggested it was a good idea to get tested before you sit down with family for Thanksgiving.
“If we get together at a family gathering for Thanksgiving or before Christmas, or for some other holiday as we head into winter, it makes sense that you might want to take a test that day before you go to a place where you could be infected and either other people spread,” he said.
But as the brief turned into questions, he was met with a barrage of questions about some of the hottest, partisan issues raised by the pandemic.
What he had done to investigate the origins of the pandemic?
Did he think gain-of-function experiments – making viruses more dangerous to test the impact of variations – were safe?
And was it appropriate to fund EcoHealth Alliance, which used its money for coronavirus research in China, putting it at the center of conspiracy theories about the rise of COVID-19.
It was a reminder of how Fauci had become a punching bag for conspiracy theorists, libertarians and conservatives, who turned him into a hate figure.
Jean-Pierre stepped in to close the questions, which led to resistance from some journalists.
Anthony Fauci leaves. He has been the head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984
“She has a valid question about the origins of COVID,” said Simon Ateba, one of the loudest members of the briefing room’s bumbling squad. ‘Dr. Fauci is the best person to answer.’
‘I hear your question,’ replied Jean-Pierre, ‘but we’re not doing it the way you want it.’
It came just after Fauci reflected on the lessons he learned from the pandemic and expressed concern about the divisions across America.
“When I see people in this country because of the divisions in our country … who are not vaccinated for reasons that have nothing to do with public health, but because of divisions and ideological differences, it hurts me as a doctor,” Fauci said. .
“I don’t want anyone to be hospitalized and I don’t want anyone to die from COVID. Whether you’re a far-right Republican or a far-left Democrat, I don’t care.’
Since 1984, Fauci has headed the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.